The Task Unification Technique is one of five in the SIT methodology, and it produces remarkable clever ideas – the ones that make you slap your forehead and say, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?”
Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it’s taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job.
Here’s a great example of how to find aliens by using a rather resource – the aliens themselves. As reported in the Christian Science Monitor:
A new study suggests that perhaps we should be looking for aliens who are looking for us in the hope of finding each other and communicating.
The idea is to flip our current approach around. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered more than 1,000 exoplanets by watching for the light of a star to dim as an orbiting planet passes by. Scientists now suggest that we target worlds that could use that same method to spot us in a new paper to be published in the journal Astrobiology.
Here’s how it would work: Earth can be detected using the same methods from only a small strip of space. The dimming of our Sun as our planet passes by could only be spotted from what’s called Earth’s “transit zone.” And that region boasts some 100,000 potential alien habitats.
So if they’re there and they’re looking for us, perhaps they’ve broadcast a signal in an attempt to get in touch with us. And if we listen, we may discover each other.
“The key point of this strategy is that it confines the search area to a very small part of the sky. As a consequence, it might take us less than a human life span to find out whether or not there are extraterrestrial astronomers who have found the Earth. They may have detected Earth’s biogenic atmosphere and started to contact whoever is home,” Dr. Heller explained in another press release.
I love this idea because it is using the object of your efforts as the solution. In our book, Inside the Box, we describe a similar innovation on how to get rid of tsetse flies by using male flies that have been sterilized so they can’t reproduce. Eventually, the whole colony disappears.
To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:
1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
- Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
- Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
- Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
5. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?